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Breaking Bad Recap: ‘Buyout’ (Season 5, Episode 6)

Posted By Devon Ashby On August 20, 2012 @ 7:04 pm In Movies & TV,Television | 1 Comment

Illustration by Bee Johnson [1]
© 2012 California Literary Review

With the murder that closed the last episode, the chips are down and battle lines are pretty much drawn. At the same time, the stakes have been dramatically raised by the success of the train robbery, and even more so by the fallout scrutiny from police that will soon be the result of the crew’s involvement in the disappearance of the boy Todd shot. There has never been more money to be made, more penetrating pressure from law enforcement, or fewer vestiges of ethical ambiguity. Walt’s patience for moral considerations is waning in the face of his burgeoning lust for market domination, Mike is increasingly feeling the burn from the DEA, and Jesse is starting to break under the stress of potential risks and previously incurred damages. Adding to the trouble is Todd, who has basically succeeded at forcefully inserting himself into the operation at a higher level than anyone originally intended, despite being an obvious loose cannon and security threat.

“Evolve” fades up on the somber, amber-lit interior of the pest control garage. Walt, Mike and Todd silently back a truck filled with red desert earth and detritus into the cement-floored interior while ominous, somber music swallows up the soundtrack. They dig out and dismantle both the dirt bike and the corpse, burning them down in a plastic barrel with acid. Outside, Jesse smokes a cigarette tensely. Todd strolls up to him nonchalantly and makes a joke about the chemicals smelling like cat piss. Jesse glowers silently at his cigarette, so Todd perseveres with, “Hey, shit happens, huh?” Jesse whirls around and slugs Todd in the face, knocking him into the dirt.

Inside the office, Todd pleads his case to Walt and Mike with slick, whining professionalism, insisting the kid was a threat and there was no other option except to kill him. Jesse paces back and forth behind Todd’s chair, enraged. The scene is interesting because of the way it illustrates Breaking Bad’s perspective on its central dramatic device. Todd sounds pretty much exactly like a character in a regular drug trafficking or heist thriller discussing everything calmly from a business perspective, but in a room full of fully-fleshed characters, each juggling uncomfortable facets of their own personal context and experience, Todd sounds callous, stupid, and bewilderingly detached from both the practical and ethical reality of what has just transpired.

Todd is sent out of the room for deliberations, and the other crew members reluctantly agree that the best option is to keep Todd on staff for security reasons, since the only other options would be to pay him off or kill him.

Gomez and another DEA agent conduct surveillance on Mike from a van while he plays at a park with his granddaughter. Mike scribbles something on a piece of paper and shoves it underneath a trash can, then walks away with the granddaughter in tow. Thinking it’s a drug drop, Gomez eagerly snaps on a rubber glove and digs around under the trashcan, coming up with a note with “F— YOU” written on it in Sharpie.

Skyler breaks down on the sofa at Marie’s house, crying and cuddling Holly. Sky appears on the verge of telling Marie something – maybe not the truth, but at least some version of what’s really going on that might clarify her position. Before Skyler can do this, Marie heads her off and asks if Skyler’s problem is that she feels guilty about her affair with Ted. Skyler seems taken aback but maintains a cool exterior, nodding her head and mechanically agreeing.

Jesse and Walt watch TV while they wait for a cook to finish. Jesse flips the channel and lands on the news, where a newscaster says that the name of the dead dirt bike kid was Drew Sharp, and that cops are currently expanding the field of search after four days without any leads. Jesse stares bug-eyed at the TV, looking like his head is about to explode. Walt comes up behind him and gives him a pep talk, claiming he has been unable to sleep nights because of the dead dirt bike kid. He emphasizes the newly leveraged position they’re going to enjoy in the meth market due to their freshly seized cache of methylamine, and Jesse seems slightly reassured.

Walt goes to the pest control garage to drop a batch of meth, but is cornered by Mike. Mike leads Walt into the back office, where Jesse is already waiting for them. Mike explains the DEA is tailing him. He and Jesse both want to quit the business and sell out their two thirds of the methylamine to a different dealer for approximately five million apiece. Mike even agrees to handle the legacy pay out of his own share of the funds. They urge Walt to do the same, but Walt seems deeply and personally offended that they would even ask him to participate in such foolishness.

Mike and Jesse rendezvous in the desert with a disheveled, leather-jacket clad gentleman, handing off a sample gallon of methylamine for testing. Leather Guy says the batch is worth the money to him purely for the sake of getting rid of blue crystal, which has been systematically crippling his own business. Mike and Jesse are awkwardly forced to admit that the blue meth will continue to be manufactured and circulated after their own personal batch of methylamine has been unloaded, and dude is not impressed. He basically says his offer is void unless they can guarantee total shutdown of blue meth production. Mike and Jesse glance sideways at each other nervously.

At Walt’s urging, Jesse drops by the house to try to convince Walt to throw in his share with Jesse’s and Mike’s. Jesse pleads with Walt desperately, explaining that the deal won’t go through at all unless the entire cache is unloaded, but Walt won’t listen. Coldly, he brings up Gray Matter, explaining that he sold out his third of the company for five thousand dollars when he was still in grad school, and now it’s worth billions. “With a B,” he emphasizes, bitterly. “I’m in the empire business,” he concludes. It’s a blunt and powerful scene, finally laying bare Walt’s real motivations about what he’s been up to this whole time, despite his constant, indignant protests about the need to provide for his family. He wants power, status, and respect, and he’s prepared to bust as many heads as necessary to get them.

Skyler shows up unexpectedly carrying an Albertson’s bag and Walt talks over her, inviting Jesse to stay for dinner. Jesse seems uncomfortable, but he agrees.

“These are great green beans, Mrs. White.”
Photo by Ursula Coyote/AMC

Over dinner, Jesse awkwardly tries to compliment Skyler’s cooking and then rambles on for like four minutes about frozen dinners and the car wash. Skyler icily asks Jesse if Walt told him about her affair, then storms out, leaving Jesse looking comically baffled and discomfited. Walt explains that Skyler forced him to send their kids to live with her in-laws, and that she told him she was waiting for his cancer to come back. “This business is all I have left now,” Walt intones, his voice dripping with self-pity, “It’s all I have, and you want to take it away from me.”

Walt arrives at the pest control office where Mike confronts him. He explains that the deal with the outside meth distributor has already been made, and Walt’s share is being sold with or without his consent, then zip ties Walt’s wrist to a radiator and leaves. After fumbling unsuccessfully with a glass coffee carafe, Walt chews through the plastic sheath on some wiring and uses it to burn through the zip tie, freeing himself, but badly burning his wrist.

Saul Goodman pops up to tell off Gomez and Hank at the DEA for badgering Mike, referring to their behavior as “stalking.” Outside in the parking lot, Saul explains to Mike that the harassment charges won’t stick in court, but that it should at least stave off the surveillance for about twenty-four hours or so, long enough for Mike to successfully complete the methylamine deal.

Back at the pest control garage, Mike is in for a nasty shock – the methylamine has been cleared out completely. Mike storms into the back of the shop and discovers Walt and Jesse speaking in hushed tones in the office. Mike shoves his gun in Walter’s face and starts demanding to know where the methylamine supply is, but before he can fire, Jesse cuts him off an explains that Walt has figured out a way to keep his chemicals and still get Jesse and Mike their money. Glaring down the barrel of his gun, Mike finally grits, “Is that true, Walter?” Walt glances sideways at the gun barrel that’s pressed against his temple, smirking. “Everybody wins,” he confirms.


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